or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Baby › Co-sleeping and the Family Bed › Teaching a 2 year old to fall asleep without being walked...
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Teaching a 2 year old to fall asleep without being walked...

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

AP Mommas, 
I need help.  I have been walking my toddler to sleep his entire life.  We also co-sleep and lately he wakes up about every hour unable to put himself back to sleep without my help.  How do I get a toddler to fall asleep on his own (right beside me, of course-- no way am I leaving him -- once I left him with his dad at bedtime, and he absolutely FREAKED).  

 

When I have tried teaching him to self-soothe in the past, here are the problems I have encountered:

 

-He gets out of bed (or struggles to keep me from keeping him in the bed).

 

-He never goes to sleep on his own and then gets overly tired and the rest of the night is a total nightmare.

 

PLease, AP moms, help me!  My back is breaking.

 

 

Also, I walk him for naps-- if I fail to do so, the nap schedule gets ruined and I pay dearly later in the night.  Do you think he has to "self-soothe" for naps in order to also "self-soothe" at night?

post #2 of 13
I think naps and bedtime can involve different routines. Some kids do well with that but others don't so you probably wouldn't know until you tried. I generally find naptime harder than bedtime so I'd try leaving nap as is for now to see if it works.

I never walked DD to sleep but I did nurse her to sleep all the time. We're in a weird no man's land right now: my supply dried up due to pregnancy and she stopped actually nursing but still likes the boob in her mouth to drift off. I did nightwean her gradually which gives me an idea.
First, is he a new 2 or an older 2? How well does he talk and understand? You could tell him that since he's growing so big and strong, it's getting hard for mommy to walk him to sleep so starting tomorrow mommy can only walk him for a while, then he will lay down with mommy and snuggle to go to sleep. Start with walking until he's pretty drowsy then gently say it's time to snuggle and get into bed with him. If he gets really upset then you can say we will try again and walk a bit more. At this point you can decide to walk until hes asleep and try the next day or try the bed again drowsy. This is the equivalent of me nursing DD when she got very upset and needed to nurse. I'd simply try again later.
I wish I had more specific help for you but this gentle approach of encouraging the change but letting her have tha familiar comfort when needed really helped us. It's more work in the short term but it keeps in mind his needs and makes it a largely tear free gradual adjustment.
Hth, good luck!
post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by skycheattraffic View Post

I think naps and bedtime can involve different routines. Some kids do well with that but others don't so you probably wouldn't know until you tried. I generally find naptime harder than bedtime so I'd try leaving nap as is for now to see if it works.

I never walked DD to sleep but I did nurse her to sleep all the time. We're in a weird no man's land right now: my supply dried up due to pregnancy and she stopped actually nursing but still likes the boob in her mouth to drift off. I did nightwean her gradually which gives me an idea.
First, is he a new 2 or an older 2? How well does he talk and understand? You could tell him that since he's growing so big and strong, it's getting hard for mommy to walk him to sleep so starting tomorrow mommy can only walk him for a while, then he will lay down with mommy and snuggle to go to sleep. Start with walking until he's pretty drowsy then gently say it's time to snuggle and get into bed with him. If he gets really upset then you can say we will try again and walk a bit more. At this point you can decide to walk until hes asleep and try the next day or try the bed again drowsy. This is the equivalent of me nursing DD when she got very upset and needed to nurse. I'd simply try again later.
I wish I had more specific help for you but this gentle approach of encouraging the change but letting her have tha familiar comfort when needed really helped us. It's more work in the short term but it keeps in mind his needs and makes it a largely tear free gradual adjustment.
Hth, good luck!

He is almost 2.  Thank you so much-- this actually gives me a lot of clarity on what try first.bow.gif You've given me the idea to tell him that "Momma's sick"(what he would understand) when we lie down.  Maybe he'll understand then why I can't walk him and not resist so much.  

post #4 of 13

I didn't have a walker, but I did have a rocker (thank you MIL...grrr).  

 

I would simply lay down with him, and come up with a way to keep him in bed.  At that age, I can remember reading the same loved book over and over and over until a kiddo would crash, but once it became standard that we lay down to go to sleep, it would get easier and easier.  I would also put heavy emphasis on snuggling, because that's probably what he needs, that close cuddly contact.  Once he adjusts to laying down to fall asleep, then I would begin working on getting him to lay down by himself, but I would ease the transition one step at a time.

post #5 of 13
Perhaps you could try sitting with him, if he's used to falling asleep more upright. Then he learns to sleep without movement. After that you could move to lying down together. Just an idea.
post #6 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by thefreckledmama View Post

I didn't have a walker, but I did have a rocker (thank you MIL...grrr).  

 

I would simply lay down with him, and come up with a way to keep him in bed.  At that age, I can remember reading the same loved book over and over and over until a kiddo would crash, but once it became standard that we lay down to go to sleep, it would get easier and easier.  I would also put heavy emphasis on snuggling, because that's probably what he needs, that close cuddly contact.  Once he adjusts to laying down to fall asleep, then I would begin working on getting him to lay down by himself, but I would ease the transition one step at a time.

Thank you!! I like the book idea (the same one would bore him to sleep-- genius!) and the heavy emphasis on snuggling.  I knew I would get some great ideas on here.

post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by pek64 View Post

Perhaps you could try sitting with him, if he's used to falling asleep more upright. Then he learns to sleep without movement. After that you could move to lying down together. Just an idea.

Another great idea that I hadn't thought of...  THANK YOU!!  

post #8 of 13

How are you walking him? Is he in your arms? In a sling?   I think that will help understand what he's really attached to...

 

My first was a sling baby and, honestly, there were so many advantages to that even if the whole "holding to sleep" thing got old from time to time. She needed physical contact to sleep for a long time. I say this just to give you some comfort if some of my suggestions that worked for my second don't work for you.  

 

My second is a much less physical baby in terms of her need to be held. For her, intimacy comes from things like hiding together under a blanket or sharing food and other slightly less snuggly things. 

 

Do you drive?  If so, does your baby sleep in the car?  I know this not the most environmental suggestion but in order to wean my younger off nursing to sleep during naps I structured my day so I was always in the car during nap time...and then did the back breaking task of hauling a sleep toddler in car seat into the house. URGH!  It was rough...and we still haven't found a non-motion solution for naps.  

 

BUT, we've had great success at night, which I thought was going to be the more difficult one.  I suggest a good routine and just talking to your LO about the new plan. Perhaps walk, lay down, walk, lay down, walk lay down...as many times as it takes the first night. Or, what we did (nursing was the thing we wanted to remove from the sleep routine) was DC could be downstairs with her dad as much as she wanted but if she wanted to be up with me she had to lay in her bed alone.  This would NOT have worked with my first child in a million years...but I worked so, so well for my baby. I was getting some signals from her that maybe she would be a better sleep-alone sleeper and I think she is.  I still bring her in "the big bed" every night when I go up but this solution is one that works for her.  You could certainly do the same with a family bed. 

 

Another though if it's motion that your LO likes is to get a stroller and walk - good exercise, the nights are longer (presumably) and I have found that to be a nice routine/way to end the day. If you have a  partner, you could share that task too...and a bonus is that it's something most other caregivers could do if you want to move in that direction.  

 

For me, I think the key is to just change one thing. Let the child have what they most attached to (within reason) but find a way to make that work for you. I think a little compromise is fine (even good!) for kids as they move into the toddler stage. 

 

Good luck! 

post #9 of 13

Oh, also, at this age many kids can start to understand simple things like, "mommy's tired".  When I wanted to nurse less (around 2), I just told my DC that my breasts hurt. Honestly, they were more irritated but "hurt" was the word that my DC could understand. We also said they went "night night".  She even kissed them to sleep.  This is how I would structure the conversation.

 

You could also walk to sleep for naps and go cold-turkey at night by telling your DC, "Mommy is tired and her feet have an owie. We're going to talk around the block/house and then we're going to lay together in bed." You may find your DC is better with going right to bed or, if he's like my DC, she kind of needs a buffer - a book, teeth brushed, a water... 

 

Or, you could try, "Walk, bath, book, bed," or something like that. Keep the walk in the routine but don't let it be the end-all-be-all.  

 

And...if it isn't pretty easy (relatively!), consider giving it a month and trying again. Sometimes I think we have great advice and ideas that don't work because they are being implemented at the wrong time. As you're trying things, keep track of the things that resonate with you even if they don't work. File them away to come back to. 

post #10 of 13
Thread Starter 
Thanks, IdentityCrisisMama! I tried the stroller for naps, but that failed. He is addicted to the backpack. I'm now trying to wind down in the bed, then walk a little, then sit in a rocking chair with him in the backpack. My back is ok with this, and I do feel I'm making progress. It may have just been a fluke, but we had a really good night last night. So thankful for all of the help!
post #11 of 13

Yay for progress!!  

post #12 of 13
Thread Starter 
UPDATE... He is now falling asleep unassisted, peacefully beside mommy. It took about 2 weeks of trying different things 2 keep him happy, but he finally got used to lying in bed and falling asleep. It is helping to decrease night wakings. Thank you all for the ideas.
post #13 of 13
Yay!!
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Co-sleeping and the Family Bed
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Baby › Co-sleeping and the Family Bed › Teaching a 2 year old to fall asleep without being walked...